Why did CAAN close ground handling of Thai Airways?

KATHMANDU: The Civil Aviation Authority of Nepal (CAAN), which canceled the ground handling services being done by Thai Airways, has been found to have already collected the service charges up until June 2023 from the Airways.

CAAN had directed to stop ground handling of Thai Airways by sending a letter to that effect on Monday at midnight.

However, the letter did not arrive, according to an official source at Airways. The authority has already collected the service charge up to June 2023 while making an agreement for the continuation of the operation of ground handling services.

An employee of Thai Airways asked, “If the ground handling service was to be stopped, why did they charge the service?”

The General Manager of the Tribhuvan International Airport (TIA), Prem Nath Thakur, who is currently suspended, had bargained for money under the table by not renewing employee’s entry passes and vehicle passes and causing unnecessary trouble for the continuation of the ground handling services.

Thakur had asked a bribe of Rs 1 million from Putiwat Silapi, head of Thai Airways Nepal’s engineering department, to allow ground handling services to continue. He was eventually suspended after his audio material seeking a bribe of Rs 1 million was leaked.Culture, Tourism, and Civil Aviation Authority Minister Sudan Kiranti suspended Thakur.

Thakur then said that he had given all the responsibility to a businessman (Society International Travel) regarding the matter.

Nepal Press has received an audio in which the businessman is heard dealing with money with Silapi and also arranging ground handling permission for Thai Smile.

Although an application for the renewal of ground handling services has already been sent, it has not yet progressed in the process, said the Airways.

Silapi said, “I have been repeatedly running around with documents for the renewal process, but no one listened. There was always an excuse to stop the work.”

Thai Airways has paid all the royalties until December 2022. An official of Thai Air said that since the bill for royalty up to January has just arrived, they are preparing to pay it within this week. The service fee up to June 2023 has also been paid, but there was no information on the matter from the authority.

The business of both Thai Air and Thai Smile is completely different. Although Thai Smile had obtained a license for flight operation service, its self-ground handling services have been revoked for now as it had not received official approval from Thailand’s regulatory body.

Thai Airways has been providing aircraft maintenance services to various airlines including Korean, Thai Smile, Cathay Pacific, and Singapore.

According to CAAN Deputy Director General and Spokesperson Jagannath Niraula,Nepal Airline Corporation will now do the entire ground handling work.

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